Brisket is always the crown jewel of any barbecue. People love it whether it’s destined for sandwiches, a knife and fork, or even picked with your fingers (we don’t judge). It’s actually a fairly tough cut of beef. But a long, slow smoke breaks down the tissues to tenderize and enrich the meat. The techniques have developed over the centuries. Different cultures might have slight variations, but a brisket almost always means a celebration. Even if it’s just a party of one or two, a brisket never disappoints.
Jay Ducote’s Brisket Cooking Method
Too many people are intimidated by smoking meats—especially a big piece like a brisket. But smoking a brisket is completely doable. It’s really just six simple steps: trim, rest, season, smoke, wrap, and rest. Check out the official Jay Ducote process and get to smokin’!
Brisket Smoking Step #1: Trim
Trim the brisket when it’s cold. Remove any hard fat—you’ll be able to feel it. Trim other surface fat slightly, but you want to leave up to a 1/4″ of soft fat in most places. You should also trim off any meat that’s just dangling or making truly odd shapes. Remove anything that looks like it’s not truly part of the brisket muscle. But be careful of over-trimming! The last thing you want to do is create waste.
Brisket Smoking Step #2: Rest
After trimming, bring the brisket close to room temperature before you put it on the smoker. If you put a cold slab of meat in your smoker, you’ll have a harder time controlling heat levels. On the other hand, if the meat is already up to 70 degrees throughout, you’ll have an easier job keeping consistent temperatures. Resting shouldn’t take any longer than four hours. Shoot for two to three hours.
Brisket Smoking Step #3: Season
A layer of yellow mustard around the brisket gives the rub something else to stick to. Just rub on some yellow mustard, then use my Jay D’s Backyard Brisket Rub very liberally. Coat every square inch of the brisket, including the sides, under any flaps, and in every crevasse. You could easily use an entire jar—around one cup—for a full brisket. Don’t be shy. The brisket needs it!
Brisket Smoking Step #4: Smoke
As far as the smoker itself, I like an egg-shaped cooker such as Primo Grill or Big Green Egg. I prefer using real wood or good lump charcoal rather than briquettes. Start with a generous portion of coals or wood to start your fire, then restrict airflow to hold the temperature pretty early on. If you restrict airflow properly, one coal bed should burn for eight hours.
Smoke your brisket fatty side up for about eight hours at a minimum of 225 degrees Fahrenheit, but ideally in the 240-250 degree range. Depending on the type of smoke, you’ll need to control your airflow and fuel to maintain your temperature.
Brisket Smoking Step #5: Wrap
After around eight hours, remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap it in pink butcher paper. Restart the coals if you need to, then put the wrapped brisket back on the smoker at the same temperature. Leave until the internal temperature of the brisket surpasses 200 degrees Fahrenheit—about four hours. The amount of time depends on the size, temperature, and airflow.
Brisket Smoking Step #6: Rest
Allow the cooked brisket to rest in the butcher paper for at least 30 minutes. Then remove it from the paper onto a cutting board—watch out for drippings! Slice the brisket against the grain of the muscle fibers. That’ll mostly be across the brisket width-wise on the smaller end (known as the flat) and lengthwise on the fatter end (the point).
Smoke One Up With Jay
Reading over these steps, you can probably tell the most important brisket ingredient is time. We’ve all heard that “patience is a virtue,” and in this case, patience is also delicious. While it’s resting and smoking, find me on social media. I’m @JayDucote on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Show me your briskets or hit me up with your questions.